Innovation That Matters

Zipcar uses mobile GPS to pinpoint nearest car


We first wrote about Zipcar in 2003, applauding the company’s innovative approach to the staid car rental industry. Catering to urban dwellers in North America and the UK, Zipcar’s car sharing fleet is rentable by the hour, gas and insurance included. Which allows customers to use the vehicles whenever they need them. Zipcar’s culture of innovation didn’t stop there. In April 2007, we noted that it had partnered with The UK company acts as a clearing house, allowing people with parking spaces for rent to link up with those looking for a place to stow their cars. The savvy alliance meant Zipcar’s fleet could now be stashed in more locations, hopefully within walking distance of its customers. To make finding those cars easier, this fall Zipcar unveiled a mobile tracking system. How it works? Suppose a Zipcar member buys an expensive antique chair at a shop in Soho (be it New York or London). To find a car to haul it home in, they simply access Zipcar with a GPS-enabled cell phone to find the nearest vehicle and make an instant reservation, unlock the car by pressing the company’s membership card to the windshield. Customer takes home the chair. Returns the car to a designated parking space. Presto! An urban logistics problem that would have caused severe headaches just a few years ago is made simple thanks to the mobile web and an innovative business idea. Entrepreneurs take heart: plenty of similar everyday hassles remain, crying out for solutions. Spotted by: RK



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